Rising cozy mystery author Winnie Archer cooks up her latest installment in her delightful and delicious Bread Shop Mystery series.
When I first created Ivy Culpepper, her mother, Anna, had already passed. I hadn’t delved too far into Anna’s background at that point, but during the writing of this book (#8–Bread Over Troubled Water), I wanted to find a way to bring Ivy’s mom into the wedding festivities between Ivy and Miguel. That meant I had to figure out who Anna was and what her background looked like.
Part of what I love about this series is being able to celebrate bread from many different cultures. Olaya Solis is Mexican, and Yeast of Eden, her artisan bread shop, uses traditional Mexican long-rise baking methods. Through her, I get to dive into those traditions.
It is through the mysteries and the other characters in the series that I have been able to weave in other cultures. In Dough or Die, Olaya begins a series of classes called Bread for Life. The goal is to lift up and empower low income and immigrant women in the community and help them develop hirable skills, as well as self-confidence (this is modeled after a similar program run by a baker in New York). Olaya teaches them to bake, but more than that, they share recipes from their families and cultures. They share recipes for indigenous breads, and they celebrate each other.
When thinking about Anna’s heritage, I wanted, once again, to celebrate other cultures, which meant I had to go back a few generations to determine where Anna’s family came from. Randomly, Ukraine came to mind. I wrote this book long before the current situation there arose with Russia’s invasion. I couldn’t have timed the celebration of Anna’s heritage via traditional Ukrainian bread better. I love that this book celebrates a bread from Ukraine at a time when our thoughts and prayers need to remain with the Ukrainian people.
I hope you enjoy Bread Over Troubled Water, of course, but I also hope you see the culture of a people in trouble through the bread celebrated in this book. Food ties us together, and that is one of the most important elements in this entire series.
Wishing you all a lovely holiday season.
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